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Reviewed by:
  • Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
  • Elizabeth Bush
Brosgol, Vera Be Prepared; written and illus. by Vera Brosgol; color by Alec Longstreth. First Second,
2018 256p
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-62672-444-0 $22.99
Paper ed. ISBN 978-1-62672-445-7 $12.99 R Gr. 4-6

Money is tight and Vera can't keep up with the social pressures of her classmates, and in Vera's estimation, her immigrant mother's cluelessness (who could possibly think Dimitri's pizza could sub for Pizza Hut stuffed crust at a party?) doesn't help. Vera does manage to talk her mother into sending her and brother to a summer camp, though it's not the one her buddies go to, but a Russian Orthodox one. At almost-ten, Vera is assigned to the older girl section, and her fourteen-year-old boy-crazy tentmates adopt her as a kind of mascot, good for providing covert candy and cleverly sketching pictures of the cute guys but easily abandoned when the social going gets tough. Just when things look their worst, though, Vera meets a younger camper with whom she shares interests, and she begins to consider the advice of her camp counselor on how to get along. Brosgol's illustration skills fully match her convincing narration in this autobiographical graphic novel, with a palette dominated by olive and khaki greens, and Vera's every woe and triumph amplified by the expressive eyes behind her big, round glasses. There's no real villainy here, just the quotidian slings and arrows carelessly shot by kids more concerned with fun than empathy. That makes Vera a character with appeal to every tween who's ever felt disappointed by peers—or by a fulfilled wish that didn't live up to its bright, shiny promise. EB [End Page 325]

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